The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Malindi Eyes High-End Tourism

Malindi investors are drawing up a five-year master plan to make the area the best tourism destination in Africa. The grand strategy is meant to improve infrastructure to attract visitors that can boost the economy.

The investors are already forming an association to implement the plan. Roberto Marini, the owner of Ocean Beach Resort and one of the association founders, said the resort town has the potential to attract "high-class tourists" if proper standards are set.

Speaking to journalists at his five-star hotel yesterday, Marini said poor infrastructure and "low-class hotels" have contributed to the decline of tourism in Malindi.

He said most hotels offer services that attract tourists "without money" who do not contribute anything to economy of the resort town and the country at large.

The investor said the town's infrastructure was also in bad condition with pot holes, congestion because of trucks in transit to and from Garissa and Lamu, and a poor lighting system.

"If we can help push for a seven-kilometre stretch of cabro block roads each year, we shall succeed in upgrading the roads after only five years, Marini said.

He said the town has no parking space, no pathways for tourists and no international airport, factors that deter tourists. Marini said the association will help push for reforms "as a team" and make the town the best destination in Africa in five years.

He said their five-star hotels drew high profile personalities from around the world last year and could attract even more in future if services are improved.

"High-class tourism is good because it attracts clients with money who can spend during their holiday and benefit the locals," he said. Marini said once the international airport is in place investors can focus on other sectors such as agriculture.

He said last year many bookings were cancelled due to insecurity and urged the Kenya Tourism Board to promote the country aggressivly in the UK and Germany.

"Seventy per cent of the tourists are now going to Zanzibar because of its good landscaping, Indian Ocean and security. We can make Malindi a better destination in Africa," Marini said.

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